Around the world 3D printers and their owners are being called on to help create new personal protection equipment (PPE), especially important face shields. Here in South Africa that is no different, with one company pumping out product with its large format printers.

That company is Fouche 3D Printing. We’ve featured it and its flagship Cheetah Pro 3D printer many times in the past. From skateboard decks and car jacks, to playable guitars and Marmite furniture, these printers can do it all with their unique granule-based system over the typical wire filament.

Hans Fouche, founder and operator of the company, first got into printing face shields with a local medical company. After a few batches Fouche partnered with Railways Cafe to take the project further.

Railways Cafe is a unique venture in Irene that focuses on empowering the local community, especially around maker endeavours. Right now Fouche is 3D printing around 500 face shield frames every single day, which is then sent over to the cafe where it is fitted with the visor and headband to complete the piece.

In the gallery below you can see the frame on its own, and several massive batches completed already.

“[I have believed in the tagline] ‘prints 10 times faster, with material that cost a tenth of filament’. I have marketed along those lines for quite some time, but it didn’t really sink in. It is sad that it have taken this horrible virus and the masks to illustrate that point. The normal 3D printer can print 10 mask frames per day, at a filament cost of about R12.50. The Cheetah can do 85 masks, at a material cost of R1.50. We have 3 Cheetahs printing, and I have illustrated on the 3D Printing South Africa Facebook page that it can in fact prints 500 units per 24 hour shift,” Fouche tells us.

Fouche has printed around 4 500 face shield frames as of earlier this week. With such a high number being produced every day, that total will be much higher by the time you read this.

The Railways Cafe tells us that it has between three and four thousand completed face shields are going out to various institutions which needs them, together with donations. They also note that the strong frames from Fouche have been known to be used multiple times after the visors and headbands have been replaced.

Those who would like to get involved, or get their own printer, can contact Railways Cafe or Fouche 3D printing.

Any South Africans with idle printers should join the aforementioned 3D Printing South Africa Facebook group where several efforts are ongoing to make more shields as needed. You don’t need a massive Cheetah printer to do so, but it seems that it certainly helps.

A completed face shield. Images on this page courtesy of Railways Cafe and Fouche 3D Printing.